Argentine man detained in Israel for refusing to grant his wife a religious divorce


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — An Argentine Jewish tourist in Israel was stopped at Ben Gurion International Airport and prevented from returning to Buenos Aires following a petition by his former wife to the rabbinical court in Israel.

The man, who has not been named, traveled from Buenos Aires to Tel Aviv in February to participate in a friend’s wedding. He and his former wife, who also has not been identified, were married under civil law and also in a religious ceremony in Argentina, and divorced under civil law five months later.

On Feb. 1, she presented her case in a rabbinical court in Israel, where marital issues are under the jurisdiction of religious tribunals that act as family courts.

This reportedly is the first Argentine case of a wife suing her former husband in Israel for a Jewish religious divorce, or “get.”

Under Jewish law, a marriage cannot be dissolved unless the man consents to a get. Rabbinical courts cannot force a man to give his wife a get, but they can impose harsh punishments and public shaming on someone the judges determine is unjustly withholding a get and turning the women into what is known as “agunah,” or a “chained woman.”

The Argentine man must remain in Israel for at least five more days. On Monday, he must present himself to the rabbinical tribunal.


Argentinean media, including the daily Clarin, in covering the issue presented the case by discussing the movie “Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem,” an Israeli film that depicts the five-year legal struggle of an Orthodox wife to obtain a religious divorce, in trying to explain the dilemma of the chained women.

Agunot are not allowed to remarry under Jewish law, and any children they have with a new husband in a civil marriage are considered illegitimate.

One month ago the Knesset passed in a first reading draft legislation that would expose to legal action in Israel Jewish non-citizens who refuse to grant their wives a divorce.


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